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Exciting Days Out For Children in Oxford and The Cotswolds

We all know that finding things to do during the school holidays is often difficult and expensive. However, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, treat your kids to some water-filled fun or you just want something a little different, both Oxford and The Cotswolds are filled to brim with things to do. So here’s our guide to days out for children in Oxford and The Cotswolds so you don’t have to go looking.

Days Out For Children In Oxford

1. Oxfordshire and Cotswolds Walks

a family walking across some cotswolds hills
Image Credit: Fas Khan via Unsplash

There are plenty of walking trails in Oxford. Oxford Walks has a wide range of self-guided walks you and your family can embark on for a fun-filled day out in Oxford. For those new to Oxford, the easiest approach is to simply amble through the city centre making use of the signs and information panels dotted around. The Oxford Visitor Information Centre is also a great place to pick up leaflets and booklets on walks. 

Oxford isn’t the only place where walking is a must. From the Cotswolds Way and the Rollright Stones to the Blossom Trail, Cleeve Hill, and The Diamond Way, there are plenty of walks to discover throughout The Cotswolds too. Whether you like exploring on your own or with the kids, there’s no better way to explore The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty than on foot.

2. Guided Tours of Oxford

Are you or your children Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland obsessed? Then you’ll be excited to know that Oxford has numerous guided tours where you can discover the filming locations of J.K Rowling’s most popular book franchise. Led by local experts, Footprints Tours has a whole walking experience dedicated to Harry Potter. 

This exciting tour includes entry into New College and the Divinity School part of the Bodleian Library. Throughout the tour, you’ll get to walk in the footsteps of Hermione, Ron, Harry, and their friends and see where some of the most well-known scenes were filmed. If that’s not good enough, you’ll also get to hear about the other fabulous children’s books that were written in Oxfordshire including Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, Lord of The Rings, and Narnia.

3. Parks and Gardens in Oxford

Carrying on the outdoor theme, Oxford is filled to the brim with beautiful parks and you won’t have to travel too far to find them either. Discover the beautiful sunkissed meadows of Port Meadow, Christ Church Meadow, and Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Meadow. Smell floral delights as you walk through Oxford Botanical Gardens and play eye-spy through CS Lewis Nature Reserve and Magdalen College Deer Park. 

Other beautiful parks and gardens worth exploring in Oxford are Hinksey Park, Shotover Country Park, and Milham Ford Nature Park. Bring a picnic with you and enjoy a beautiful summer’s day out in the countryside air and make memories with your loved ones. The wide open spaces make them perfect for games of frisbee, catch, and even a small game of friendly cricket or rounders.

4. Cotswolds Country Park and Beach

Enjoy a relaxing and fun day out for children at the UK’s largest inland sandy beach right in the heart of the Cotswolds. Swim in the beautiful lagoon, participate in a variety of watersports, and complete the epic inflatable AquaVenture course. You can even enjoy mini golf, hire kayaks and standup paddleboards and hire an all-day BBQ for those warm summer days. The Cotswolds Country Park and Beach is the place to be for an action-packed, thrill-seeking day out.

5. River Cruises and Punting in Oxford

punting boats on the river cherwell
Image Credit: Toa Heftiba

You’ll be hard-pushed to find something better than messing about on the river on a warm day. With so much history, we believe you should try your hand at a bit of punting down the River Cherwell. If you’re unsure what punting is, don’t worry, it’s pretty easy. Punting is a quintessential Oxford activity that involves gliding down the river in a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a long pole. 

Hire a punt and take your family on a fun expedition along the River Thames or the River Cherwell and may even give the kids a try. You’ll have a blast learning and mastering a new skill whilst viewing the city’s picturesque waterways. If you’d rather just sit back and relax and have someone else does the heavy lifting, a river cruise is a great alternative. 

Check out these companies for boat trips, punting, and canoe hire in Oxford:

6. Oxford Wet n Wild

Oxford Wet n Wild is a truly unique day out the whole family will enjoy. Located on the stunning Queensford Lakes in Wallingford, you can expect to find giant floating inflatables, kayaks, and paddleboards. Complete the epic inflatable obstacle course, master a new skill as you glide across the water on a paddleboard, or simply just have a laugh with friends and family at this giant waterpark.

7. Sandford Parks Lido

For water lovers, a day at Sandford Parks Lido is a must when visiting the Cotswolds. Located in Cheltenham, this Grade-II listed, 50m heated outdoor pool is a major attraction worth visiting. But it’s way more than just a swimming pool.  From yoga and triathlons to dog swims, lifeguard training, and swimming lessons, there’s so much here to do on your day out for children.

8. Historical Sites

There are plenty of historical sites dotted around Oxford and The Cotswolds and what better way to spend a day out with the kids than exploring them? From Sudley Castle and Broadway Tower to Chedworth Roman Villa and Cirencester Amphitheatre, there’s a wealth of places worth exploring. 
Check out the National Trust website for more interesting places to explore in the Cotswolds. Alternatively, English Heritage has plenty of inspiration for you too.

Rainy Days Out For Children in Oxford

1. Animal Attractions

What better way to spend a day out for children in Oxford and The Cotswolds than going to an animal attraction? Discover bottle-fed lambs and goats as well as cute pigs and chicks and enjoy trailer rides and treasure hunts at Farmer Gow’s

Wander through woodlands and wetlands, have fun in the children’s play area, and encounter falcons and other farm animals at Millets Farm Centre. Have yourself a heart-warming day at the Waterfowl Sanctuary and Children’s Farm as you sit down in the ‘cuddle corner’ where you can say hello to the rabbits, chicks, ducklings, and gerbils.  

Other top animal attractions in Oxford and the Cotswolds include:

  • Cotswolds Farm Park
  • All Things Wild
  • Cotswolds Wildlife Park
  • Crocodiles of the World
  • Birdland Park and Gardens
  • Fairytale Farm

2. Museums in Oxford

Dinosaur head at the Pitt Rivers Museum
Image Credit: Ray Harrington via Unsplash

One of our favourite things to do in Oxford is visit the wealth of museums this historical town has to offer. Explore the power of stories at the Story Museum, discover unmissable architecture at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and enjoy the beauty of world-famous art and archaeology at the Ashmolean Museum. Don’t forget to uncover a fascinating collection of scientific instruments at the History of Science Museum. There’s a wealth of museums to explore and most of them are free of charge, so what have you got to lose?

3. Museums in the Cotswolds

Just like Oxford, The Cotswolds has a plethora of museums worth exploring on rainy and sunny days. Get lost in a world of motoring history at the Cotswolds Motoring Museum and Toy Collection. Uncover the story of the Cotswolds from prehistoric times to today at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester and discover local history at the Museum in the Park.

If you’re looking for something a little different head to Wellington Aviation in Moreton-on-Marsh and learn about those who served in the RAF. Following on the theme of aviation, the volunteer lead Jet Age Museum is also well worth a visit.

4. Blenheim Palace

One of Oxford’s most well-known attractions, Blenheim Palace is a must-see attraction for a day out for children in Oxford. Throughout the year and during the school holidays, Blenheim Palace often puts on special events to keep your children busy all day long. Even when there aren’t any events happening, it’s still a great place to explore.

Discover the work of Winston Churchill and follow in his footsteps as you walk through the palace’s manicured grounds. Get lost in the Marlborough Maze and immerse yourself in the palace’s history.

5. Partyman World of Play

Cute little boy plays with soft cubes in the dry pool in play center. Kid playing on indoor playground in foam rubber pit in trampoline. Child having fun in entertainment center.
Image Credit: SbytovaMN via iStock

Another great day out for children in Oxford, especially when it’s raining is soft play. Partyman World of Play is a soft play centre located in Littlemore, Oxford. Let your children burn some energy and make new friends as they traverse the soft play equipment and bury themselves in the ball pit. This inexpensive day out is perfect for everyone.

6. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Rides

Experience a train ride like no other at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway. This heritage railway ride is operated by volunteers and offers a round trip of 28 miles. It uses part of the route the former Great Western Railway (GWR) main line took from Birmingham to Cheltenham via Stratford-upon-Avon.

Enjoy a journey through Steam as you travel back in time to learn about GWR’s history, war stories, life stories of those who lived and worked on the line, and so much more.

7. Cotswolds Clubhouse

The Cotswold Clubhouse was established in 2018 as a place for a gymnastics and trampolining club. Since then it has evolved to be a fantastic Soft Play Centre, party venue, gymnastics club, and activity camp all rolled into one. So if you’re looking for a fun day out for the children where they can burn off some excess energy, then this is the place.  Let your kids run wild as you enjoy a bite to eat and a cuppa in the onsite cafe.

Looking for some last-minute accommodation?

Why not take a look at our selection of short let spaces and find the perfect home away from home? From traditional townhouses and family-friendly properties to quirky homes and dog-friendly accommodations, we have it all.

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